Knicks vs. Grizzlies NBA Odds & Picks: How to Back Red-Hot New York (Monday, May 3)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Julius Randle.
- The NBA's hottest team entering the week is the New York Knicks.
- Both the Knicks and Grizzlies are looking to improve their standing for playoff seeding, which New York did very well in April.
- Phillip Kall breaks down how he's backing New York to stay hot in May.
Knicks vs. Grizzlies Odds
|Moneyline||+124 / -146|
|Time||Monday, 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via FanDuel|
In a tight four-team race for the Nos 4-7 seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks’ recent hot-streak has them leading the group. New York is far from in the clear, though, as it’s just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh seed and a trip to the play-in tournament.
The Knicks have the fourth-most-difficult remaining schedule, which makes the Grizzlies one of the weaker teams New York plays, per Tankathon. Getting a win here would provide wiggle room as the season draws to an end.
The situation for Memphis is even more intense than in New York. The Grizzlies are in a three-way competition for the eight seed in the Western Conference, and the battle is within one-half game. The advantage to being the eighth seed is huge, since getting one win in the play-in tournaments guarantees a playoff spot. Memphis has the third-easiest remaining schedule per Tankathon. It will be up to them to take advantage and get the simplest route to a spot in the playoffs.
Both the Knicks and Grizzlies are in an excellent position, but a cold end to the season could make their lives much more difficult. Let’s look deeper to see which team will take one step closer to securing their favorable seed.
New York Knicks
Since the beginning of April, New York has found a way to take its play from good to great. The big change has come on the offensive end. On the year, New York ranks way down at 20th in Offensive Rating, but that ranking is all the way down to third in April, according to Basketball Reference.
Pairing this Knicks offense with their already hard-nosed defense propelled them to the highest Net Rating in the NBA in April. With all cylinders firing, New York could give the Eastern Conference elites a run for their money in the playoffs.
The player leading the charge for the revived offense has been Julius Randle. His 27.1 points per game ranked 11th in the NBA in April, and it’s four more than his average for the rest of the year.
Opponents focusing on Randle has helped open the court for the shooters in New York too. The Knicks have shot well all year, making 38.7% of their 3-point shots. They still shoot sparingly from beyond the arc, though, as they attempt a mere 29.7 per game. Creating open shots for the shooters, Randle’s play bumped their attempts up to 32.7 per game in April, per NBA.com. With New York’s extremely efficient shooting, this uptick has given its offense a big boost.
Against Memphis, the Knicks will need to play their methodical pace and continue protecting the ball. New York ranks seventh in turnovers committed, which completely counters Memphis’s aggressive defense which generates the most steals.
Memphis continues to accurately reflect their .500 record by having up and down games. Their two most recent games, for example, were against the Magic, a team tanking. In the first, they handled business and won by 17 but, in the second, struggled and lost by one.
Some of Memphis’ instability comes from what started the year as its strength: defense. Before the All-Star break, the Grizzlies had a fierce defense ranking eighth Defensive Rating, per NBA.com. In April, that fell to 16th.
The Grizzlies’ offense flipped the exact opposite way in terms of production. Before the All-Star break, Memphis ranked 19th in Offensive Rating, but that jumped to ninth in April. If the Grizzlies can combine the offensive and defensive production, they could have the same jump as New York did. Their soft end-of-season schedule could be the perfect opportunity to piece it all together.
One of the drivers of the change throughout the year has been Memphis’ ability to force turnovers. Before the All-Star break, the Grizzlies smothered teams forcing 10.1 steals per game, far and away the best per NBA.com. In April, they were down nearly two steals per game to 8.4, dropping them to 11th.
New York may be one of the tougher teams to find their defense against since they protect the ball very well. The teams that tend to give New York trouble recently have shot well from behind the arc. The Knicks do rank first in 3-point percentage allowed but Memphis’s offense has rolled in April because they worked up to sixth in percentage from deep. This will be a big test for the Grizzlies’ shooters against a tight defense.
The Knicks and Grizzlies both entered the year as young teams built to play a gritty style. Memphis started the year hotter but New York has hit its stride at the right time.
New York will need to overcome the challenges of playing on a back-to-back, but Tim Thibodeau always has his players ready for these situations. Making things better is their opponent Sunday night is the Rockets so the starters may have a chance to rest to end the game.
New York may have ended its impressive cover streak against the Suns but 11 of 12 is still impressive. (that stat assumes they maintain against the Rockets). The stats back the covers too as they have been the best recently according to Net Rating. I think they keep on rolling before the schedule gets rough.
Back New York to continue their impressive run as one of the best teams in the NBA.
Pick: Knicks +124 (play to -109); If the Knicks are favored, play to -3.5
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